Tocade by Rochas: A cologne in search of a perfume
I am a big fan of Rochas and its opulent perfumes; the name of one of them, Byzantine, seems to describe the house’s ornate style perfectly. I greatly admire Byzance, I currently own Absolu and Alchimie, and I am trying to decide if I want to spring for the modern formulations of Madame Rochas and/or Femme, since I know what the vintage versions were like. I mourn the original Lumière, and I have no idea why it “needed” to be reformulated. But there is one I had never tried, since I assumed it was inferior due to its eternal presence in the discount bins. Surprisingly I found on a recent visit that it is carried at my favorite upscale perfume shop, so after all this time I finally got around to trying Tocade.
One could easily be put off by the odd bottle; it looks like it was designed by a James Bond villain in partnership with a fast-food franchise, with its incongruous proportions (the similar packaging of its sister scent Tocadilly nearly requires eye-bleach to get past the psychedelic outward appearance) and tippy zaniness. Never mind about that, just close your eyes and sniff, for this is a really nice scent, a soft vanillic rose and iris that is hazy and romantic. One interesting feature is that the further away from the skin my nose gets, the more vanilla I smell, while if I press close I get rose and green notes; yet all I have to do is move a few inches away and there is the vanilla, refined and very pretty and not gourmand at all. Tocade is not a heavy hitter like most scents in the Rochas repertoire, but it stands up well against them, at least the modern ones. (Not sure what could hope to compete with vintage Femme!)
What puzzles me about this 1994 fragrance created by the great Maurice Roucel, now discontinued, is why it’s only available in an Eau de Toilette; it is crying out for a more concentrated formula, at least an Eau de Parfum if not a Parfum. The floral part of it is just shy of being too thin, especially since the “rose” note is actually geranium, and I think it would be luscious and gloriously rounded if it had the chance. As it is, my nose keeps “reaching” for more and finding it just out of range. I have looked high and low, on every discount site and auction listing I could find, and it is only available in the EDT, in the 1.7 oz size or the huge 3.4 oz. bottle, except for one .25 oz bottle of Parfum I located which I suspect was a limited edition or else discontinued long before the EDT was. (It was expensive, too!) It’s very good the way it is, and highly wearable for any situation, but I am at a loss to figure out why Rochas, of all houses, did not make a more intense fragrance when that is where their strength lies. I wonder if it would have succeeded in the marketplace with the added punch of an EDP to offer instead of being relegated mostly to the discounters. It’s everywhere, and can easily be had for under $25 and frequently much less, even for the big bottle. This is really a “what might have been” scent for me. I like it very much and I might even buy it, considering the price, but it could have been true love if it had a much-deserved upgrade.
Image credit: Tocade bottle and box from perfumela.com.